Posts Tagged "families"
March 14, 2023
Homelessness: Can You Pass this Quiz?
Do you know the main reason Americans slip into homelessness? Are you aware of the roots of this longstanding crisis?
The best way to counter negative views of homelessness is to develop a better understanding of why it exists and who it affects. The Urban Institute has put together a quick quiz to explore an issue that people with secure jobs and comfortable housing don’t think much about – and might prefer not to think about.
The federal government’s latest estimate of the homeless population makes clear that little progress has been made in reducing it, despite many communities’ efforts to address it. On a single night in January 2022, 582,462 people were homeless and either living on the streets or in homeless shelters or transitional housing. That includes more than 50,000 families.
The homeless population last year roughly matched the January 2020 count and is an increase from 567,715 in January 2019. The 2021 figure, experts agree, is unreliable because many communities curtailed their homeless counts during the surge in COVID cases, which may have actually increased the population.
A better understanding of homelessness is the first step to finding some solutions. Spend five minutes and learn something about the issue. Here’s the quiz. …Learn More
December 9, 2021
Men Make Bigger Changes After Retiring
Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus. That continues to hold true in retirement.
A new study that examines two aspects of this major life change – personal and financial relationships – finds that men and women use their newfound freedom in different ways.
The change in men’s social lives after they retire is more dramatic because they greatly expand their network of friends, adult children, and extended family, and they have more conversations with them about personal matters.
Men “become more dependent on family,” concludes research by two University of Wisconsin sociologists.
Retirement doesn’t mark the same type of social shift for women, however. They already had a larger network and always took more responsibility for maintaining relationships, and not much changes in retirement – with one exception. Women increase the number of hours spent taking care of their grandchildren.
The differences are consistent across much of the western world, according to this study, which was based on surveys in the United States and Europe – from Sweden to Spain to Estonia. Although married and single people participated in the survey, the heart of the analysis was asking each individual this question:
“Looking back over the last 12 months, who are the people with whom you most often discussed things that are important to you?” Each individual listed up to five people in their networks, the nature of the relationships, and how often they are in contact.
In addition to branching out socially, retired men are more likely to give money to offspring or other family members. In married couples, this is often jointly decided by husband and wife. But the actual money transfers picked up only after the men – and not the women – retired and had more energy to devote to family. …Learn More
October 26, 2021
Low-income Spend Tax Credit on Food, Rent
The fate of the recent expansion of the federal child tax credit is uncertain in the ongoing budget negotiations in Congress. What is clear is that poor and low-income families are putting the increased assistance to good use.
Nine out of 10 families earning less than $35,000 are spending the money on one or more essential living expenses, which include food, utilities, housing, clothing or education needs like books and after-school programs, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The American Rescue Plan passed in March temporarily increased the credit from $2,000 to $3,600 per year per child for kids under age 6 and to $3,000 for older kids and teenagers. In another temporary provision in the legislation, the IRS sends the credit to families every month in the form of a monthly payment.
The child tax credit is also now fully refundable, which means that low-income people are eligible for the full credit even if they pay little or no income taxes. If the budget negotiations make this a permanent feature of the credit, the IRS would extend the federal assistance to 27 million more children in low-income families.
Unfortunately, the center estimates, there are some 4 million children in families with very low incomes that aren’t receiving the monthly payments, either because they didn’t file taxes in 2019 and 2020 or didn’t receive an economic relief check from the federal government. The IRS has created an online tool for parents to sign up and start receiving the credit.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities asked the people it surveyed about their specific uses for the monthly cash payments. Six out of 10 families earning under $35,000 said they are spending the money on food. About half are paying their utilities or housing expenses. Even the non-essential expenses seem like good uses for the extra funds, including car payments, childcare, and paying down debt.
Higher-income families also buy necessities with the extra cash. But low-income families struggle more to pay for their basic living expenses, and the center said they are using more of the money from the tax credit to pay for them. …Learn More
January 26, 2021
ACA Eased the Financial Burden on Families
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has reduced families’ medical costs significantly.
The ACA’s main goal was to provide coverage for the first time to workers who lack employer health insurance. But the expansion of free or subsidized health care to millions of parents with low and modest incomes has improved their financial stability and freed up money for their families’ other critical needs, concluded a new University of California at Davis study.
The main way the ACA expanded coverage was by giving states the option of providing Medicaid to workers earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The law also increased the number of children with health insurance, because federal and state outreach during the Medicaid expansion raised parents’ awareness of two separate insurance programs that had long been available to children: Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. To help families with modest incomes, the health care law put a cap on their annual medical spending.
Prior to the ACA’s passage, out-of-pocket medical costs were a high financial burden for 15 percent of U.S. families. That has fallen to about 10 percent of families in the years since passage, the researchers said.
What qualifies as a high cost burden depends on the family’s income. One example: the researchers determined that a family earning $75,000 had a high cost burden if they paid more than 8.35 percent of their income for out-of-pocket deductibles and copayments.
However, the study is not a current picture of the situation, because it was based on data from health care spending surveys in 2000 through 2017, prior to the pandemic. During the past year, millions of people were laid off and lost their employer health insurance when they may need it most.
But the ACA’s benefits are clear, the researchers said. Another aspect of the reform was to allow workers who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid to purchase subsidized private health insurance on the state exchanges. The law capped the total that workers spend on health care – once they reach the cap, their care is fully covered. …Learn More